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Friday, September 25, 2009

Timing is Everything

I just received a book in the mail: The Search for God and Guinness: a Biography of the Beer that Changed the World by Stephen Mansfield. From the cover:
"Beyond the company's financial success, Guinness has also been a remarkable and inspiring force for social good, whose impact was felt from the company's earliest days down to the present...

Mansfield tells the story of brewery founder Arthur Guinness and traces the family tree to his heirs who built housing for the poor, restored some of the great institutions of faith in Ireland, and who even insured that soldiers had pints of brew on the battlefields of the world's great wars....

In an age of corporate irresponsibility and corruption, the Guinness story is a challenge to our times and an inspiration to our hearts."
If you don't understand why I find this hysterically funny, have a look at this exchange. Whoo-boy: I hope they sent a copy to the Beer Nut.


  1. As a counterpoint to all this feel good BS about a watery brew produced by a gigantic international conglomerate, check out this video that dispels some of their most popular myths:

    Warning: There's a bit of vulgarity in it, so it may not be appropriate for work.

  2. Just so it's clear, I neither agree with nor endorse this hagiographic intro. I will, however, try to keep an open mind as I read the book.

  3. Heh heh. There are loads of hagiographic books about Guinness and the Guinnesses around. I don't have time to be angry at all of them. I don't even have enough time to work on a counter-project: to find records of all Ireland's dead breweries, the ones Guinness tried to literally erase from history.

    I did like that video when I first saw it, though there are some unfortunate factual errors (Park Royal was only Guinness HQ until 2005 when it was closed down, and Pernod Ricard no longer owns both Jameson and Bushmills, having sold the latter to Diageo) and I think it overplays the political ethos of the Guinnesses -- they were far too smart to get bogged down in serious constitutional politics, and the notion of "Guinness's Protestant Porter" was mud slung by the O'Connellites with no real basis in fact. Daniel O'Connell Jr ran the Phoenix Brewery directly opposite St James's Gate, which was subsequently subsumed into the complex when Guinness bought them over.

    While the social housing, in general, can't be argued with, at least some of it was an earth-salting strategy to occupy land formerly home to a vanquished brewery to ensure that no-one else tried to resurrect it.

    Keeping an open mind is of course the way to read it. But I'd nearly guarantee the book barely mentions beer at all.

  4. Many of the big brewers in the US gave alot to their communities back in the day, from housing to other things, but it all helped contribute to their bottom line. Then again so did Carnagie and Rockafeller. Doing good should always be praised, but it shouldn't cover up the sins of the company.